This short story by Flannery O'Connor is a great story containing many themes including identity and racial matters. In this story, Julian and his mother need to go to weight-reducing classes. They must ride the city bus to go there, which is a problem for his mother. While on the bus, they encounter a black woman and her young child.
Julian's mother is racist and believes that whites are superior. Julian is ashamed of this and is disgusted at his mother for it. Julian makes a point to do things he knows will bother his mother. However, his mother worships Julian and only wants the best for him.
This story is great at showing the identity conflict Julian has and also the family dynamics. There is also the strong presence of race relations in the story between Julian's mother and a young African-American boy. When the boy and Julian's mother get off the bus, Julian's mom offers him a coin. This upsets the boy's mother, who hits Julian's mom with a bag.
The mother falls to the ground and begins to speak in a nonsense. Julian begins to worry but it is too late. His mother dies at the sidewalk, an indirect result of her ignorance and racism. Julian also suffers from his mother's death. He had treated her poorly throughout his whole life and it is only when she is gone that he realizes his love for her.
He had indirectly tried to save her by educating her about her racism, but it was too late.